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Murray Journal

Viewmont Elementary students say yes to “YES! Day”

Dec 01, 2016 04:31PM ● By Julie Slama

One activity students purchased with their school tickets they earned was fingernail painting. (Missy Hamilton/Viewmont Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When Viewmont Elementary students follow their school’s code of conduct, called the Eagle Code, they get to celebrate with YES! Day. 

“Each month, we’re recognizing our students who are exemplifying our Eagle Code and celebrating the fact our students are doing great things,” Principal Missy Hamilton said.

The Eagle Code stands for Effort to try hard and keep working; Acceptance and respectfulness to everyone; Goals to have students finish their tasks; Leaders and being a good example; Excellence and to follow directions the first time; and Stand up and build up others around them.

While faculty and staff identify students who are role modeling this behavior with an Eagle ticket, the students don’t trade in the ticket for a pencil or piece of candy.

“These celebrations are fun — things students want to do — and they don’t cost any or very little money,” Hamilton said.

Each YES! Day offers different rewards. Already this school year, students have cashed in their tickets to run down the school hallways as their peers cheered them on. There’s been a chance to explore the secret parts of the school or participate in a dance party at lunch. Some students have used their tickets for fingernail painting and playing horse in basketball.

“It’s about us coming together to recognize a good thing. We’re building our community and at the same time, saying these things matter. Plus, it’s just been a lot of fun for the students to earn tickets and then celebrate being good,” she said.

Sixth-grader Abby Barlocker agrees.

“Eagle tickets are awesome because you have to earn them,” she said. “Teachers don’t just give it to you. Then you get to spend them on fun activities on YES! Days. Sometimes teachers even have activities you can do on days that aren’t YES! Days, like karaoke time.”

Classmate Madison Bauer said that all students want Eagle tickets.

“One of our teachers made Harry Potter wands and even though she used her own money to make it, she’s charging Eagle tickets for people to buy one,” she said. “We have lots of choices on what we can spend our Eagle tickets on. We even get to make suggestions to the PTA for YES! Day activities.”

The YES! Days are held monthly, after introducing which part of the Eagle Code students should focus on and having student council help in demonstrating it through a mini-lesson at a school assembly.

“We’re seeing much more positive behavior. There’s been a huge decline in bullying and classroom disruptions. Last year, we had 211 infractions. This year, we’ve only had four,” Hamilton said.

She said that program was built by parents and teachers who are part of the school’s behavioral leadership team. 

“We looked at programs around us and built one that would work for our school. We saw one at a charter school and built upon that, then added our assemblies,” Hamilton said.

Parent-Teacher Association President Kelly Taeoalii said that the program has been fun for students at the same time as rewarding.

“Most importantly, it’s working,” she said. “Kids are highly motivated to follow the Eagle Code and it has more value to them than stickers or candy. These activities, such as running down the halls or touring secret parts of the school, are experiences they choose and will remember earning.”

Sixth-grader Brandon Tingey points out that the opportunity is for all students.

“YES! Day is a fun way for everyone to get involved in fun things at the school,” he said.

Hamilton said that because of YES! Day, students are more empathetic and caring.

Fifth-grader Aiden Martin said students can tie their behaviors back to the Eagle Code.

“I earn Eagle Tickets by holding the doors open for others, and sometimes in class when I’m helping one of my disabled friends, I can earn tickets for being a good friend or showing acceptance like our Eagle Code says,” Aiden said.

Simply put, by second-grader Collin Thacker: “Eagle tickets are the best.”